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How the Artemis Program is the Answer to Deep Space Exploration
As we know from virtual casino games, crypto currencies and smart devices, anything is possible. Now, the focus is on the next challenge to human endeavour, exploring outer space… and the Artemis program is the first step to sustainable inter-planetary hops!
What is the Artemis Program?
Artemis is NASA’s answer to deep space exploration. It currently consists of three planned missions, an extraordinary array of cosmic hardware, and technological input from commercial partners and international space agencies.
It is a collaborative effort that will smash previous space travel records, and set the stage for two remarkable feats, namely:
- the construction of a self-sustaining human settlement on the Moon and
- the first-ever crewed mission to Mars.
What is worth emphasising is that both these objectives were considered nothing more than wild imaginings just a few decades ago. Now, they are theoretically achievable… and the Artemis project is the key to success.
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Now back to Artemis, NASA’s re-imagined invasion of the Moon!
The Objectives of Artemis – Validation Followed by Lunar Exploration
The objective of Artemis I, the initial mission of the deep space exploration program, is to validate the technology and systems required for further discovery. It will then be followed by Artemis II and III, missions which are essentially the first test runs of what is envisaged to be the sustained exploration of the unknown!
An Overview of NASA’s Artemis I, II and II
Here is a snapshot of the planned objectives of the three Artemis Missions:
- Artemis I – an uncrewed lunar orbital test flight, planned for December 2021.
- Artemis II – the first crewed mission of the Orion spacecraft, with an estimated launch date sometime in 2024. The aim of the mission is to perform a flyby of the Moon and return safely to Earth
- Artemis III – a crewed mission to the surface of the Moon. The Orion will dock at the Gateway and astronauts will visit the lunar surface via a human landing system (HLS). Mission launch is pencilled in for around 2030.
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Now for a closer look at the intergalactic hardware at the heart of Artemis…
What is the Gateway?
At the core of the Artemis project are two steppingstones to deep space – the Gateway and a lunar base camp. What is the Lunar Gateway? It is a ‘mobile’ outpost which will orbit around the Moon and provide accommodation and stowage space for the initial lunar landing crew.
The Gateway consists of two primary components:
- HALO, the ‘Habitation and Logistics Outpost’ – constructed to house and support crew and store tools, equipment and other payload, and,
- PPE, or the ‘Power and Propulsions Element’ – a gigantic power pack three times more powerful than existing systems.
Once fused together down here on Earth, the Gateway will be launched into space where it will orbit the Moon and act as a temporary landing platform for future Artemis missions.
Hello to the Moon… Literally
HALO will be the nerve centre of Artemis III, a mission which will see humans on the lunar surface for the first time in more than 50 years. It will be the command-and-control hub where data is handled, energy is stored and power distributed.
In essence, HALO will be the home away from home for the crew members as they travel to and from the lunar surface. There mission will be to collect samples, identify potentially valuable resources and explore the immediate surroundings.
As with our Springbok Online Casino games, HALO systems are powered by sophisticated software. To ensure the success of the mission and safety of the crew, all systems are constantly monitored by engineers and technicians based at the state-of-the-art ground support facilities at Kennedy Space Centre.
How Will Astronauts Get from the Gateway to the Surface of the Moon?
The crew of Artemis III and future missions will get from A to B via a Human Landing System (HLS) developed by Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX. That, of course, means HALO will have several docking stations to accommodate Orion, the HLS and visiting spacecraft. In many respects, HALO will be a scaled down version of the International Space Station.
A Halfway House to the Moon
The second steppingstone is a base camp on the lunar surface, which will act as a springboard to outer space. By setting up a halfway house on the Moon, future deep space expeditions will not have to tack the 250,000 odd kilometres from Earth onto the total travel distance.
That alone opens up vast areas of the universe that have never been explored before. It will also ensure that future crewed missions to Mars are all the more feasible.
Gunning for the Far Side of the Moon… And Beyond
The final leg of the Artemis program – developing a base camp at the lunar South Pole – is still very much in the planning stage. The aim is to support longer expeditions on the lunar surface, with a focus on the far side of the Moon… and what lies beyond.
High tech equipment is already being developed by commercial companies for exactly that purpose. Advanced life support suits, robotic VIPER rovers and pressurised habitable mobility platforms are being purpose-designed to enable longer-term investigative capabilities.
Press On to Achieve the End Goal – A Crewed Mission to Mars
The idea behind Artemis is to press on beyond what has been achieved before. If all goes according to plan, Artemis II will set the precedent by travelling more than 64,000 km beyond the Moon. That is around 450,000 km from Earth.
In total, the Orion crew of the Artemis II mission will cover more than 2,25 million km before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere at a blistering 40,000 km per hour. If the craft can withstand the extreme temperatures – and aeronautical engineers are sure it will – the end goal is that much closer, albeit a 225 million km hop to Mars… with crew on board!
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